Buying a home in today's crazy market should come with an instruction booklet. There are so many details to the buying process that it can get confusing and frustrating. This is why we can't stress enough how important it is to have your own buyer's agent to represent you during a real estate deal. It costs buyers NOTHING to have their own representation and can really save thousands when negotiating.
I can't tell you how many agents are only part-time. This is a tough business to get into and it can be hard to get established. Many agents have other jobs, even other full-time jobs while getting their real estate gig going. Everyone needs to start somewhere but we're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars here. It's important to have a full-time agent that is on your side, ready to look at houses when you are, and ready to submit an offer... not after they get off work. Note: You can also ask if they have an assistant or team they work with. Will they be your contact or will they pass you off to assistants or other team members?
This is an important question and one that most buyers don't even think about. Real estate agents usually find a niche where they like to work; that might be in the $100,000-$300,000 range or luxury homes over $1 million. You might find a great agent but if they typically work under a $500,000 price range point and you're buying a house over the $1 million mark, they may not understand all of the nuances of buying a higher-priced home. Similarly, agents that only work in the luxury department may not put as much time and effort as you need into a home that may not get them as high of commission. It might sound harsh, but this is an important factor. Make sure your agent is comfortable with your price range so that they can put 100% towards getting you the best deal and the best terms.
You might be a great agent but when it comes to home inspections, lenders, title and escrow companies, they throw up their hands and seemed completely clueless. You want a real estate agent that is well-versed in all of the parties involved in a real estate transaction. Most experienced and seasoned real estate agents and brokers will have a book of business where they refer lenders, appraisers, inspectors and escrow companies that they've worked with in the past. Having a good rapport and reputation with these additional parties can make the entire process much smoother.
Some agents have their own niche when it comes to working with particular buyers. Perhaps they have secrets for first-time homebuyers when it comes to lenders or financing, maybe the work specifically with waterfront homes and understand the nuances of inspecting a waterfront property. See how they respond to this question and if you truly have something you find beneficial that other agents may not have.
This is a tricky question; you want to know that they have other clients and that you are not there sole source of income, but too many and you might feel like your agent may not have time for you. The agent as you ask this question. Do they truly seem devoted to spending enough time with you when searching and buying a home? Ask if they require you to sign a buyers representation contract and what happens if you don't like the way they do business?
Honestly, simply asking a bunch of questions to your real estate agent is a great way to find out if they are the right fit for you. There are thousands of real estate agents out there but only a few really great agents. At Better Properties, we employ only top brokers in the western Washington area. Feel free to give anyone of our agents a call and ask these other questions until you feel confident you have the right representation for your next home purchase.